A Lie of Thanks and Praise

As I read in Hebrews, I came upon a cause for very great thankfulness that I had not noticed before. Suppose the Old Testament promises were only for those to whom they were first given; suppose we had no right to take them for ourselves (some teach that this is so); what a tremendous loss it would be. Hebrews 13:5 was the word that brought this home to me just now. There we have the essence of three glorious verses from the Old Testament, from the Scriptures that belonged to other people (from ancient history), now given to us for our own use. I take it that the Spirit of God guided the writer of Hebrews, both in the choice of His quotations and in the translation of them, so that we have the very words which can help us most. “I will in no way fail thee, neither will I in any way forsake thee;” (Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6,8; Josh. 1:5) and then “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear: what shall man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6; Psalm 56:9-13). So what can man, the devil, or even myself do to me, if I truly know that the Lord of heaven and earth is my Helper, and that He truly says to me, “I will in no way fail thee, neither will I in any way forsake thee.”

So let us cherish thankfulness–“In God’s word will I rejoice; in the Lord’s word will I comfort myself.” For though my soul is among lions every day of my life, with me is the most high God, that shall perform the cause which I have in hand. 
From the midst of frustrations in central Africa, Fred Arnot, who was considered the David Livingstone of those regions, wrote, “I am learning never to be disappointed, but only to praise.” I read that journal letter of his when it came home from Africa forty years ago. But that vital word, in an ordinary letter, remained with me, ready for a moment of need. I am learning never to be disappointed, but only to praise. God keeps us so near to Himself that there will be little shining seeds in our letters, seeds that will bear harvests of joy somewhere, sometime, and be melody to others in their heaviness. Let us learn to not be disappointed in anything, but instead to praise.

– Amy Carmichael

The Arm of the Lord is not Shortened

We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old. – Psalm 44:1

When people hear about what God used to do, one of the things they say is, “Oh, that was a very long time ago.” They imagine that times have changed since then . . . “Things were in a different state then from what they are now.” Granted, but I want to know what it means by “the things” and what that has to do with. I thought it was God that did the things. Has God changed? Is He not an immutable God, the same yesterday, today, and forever? Does that not furnish an argument to prove that, what God has done at one time, He can do at another time?
Others say, “Oh, well, I look upon these things as great one-time miracles. We are not to expect them now.” But that is the very reason we do not get them and see them occur. If we had learned to expect them, we should no doubt obtain them, but we put them up on the shelf, as being out of the common order of our regular faith, and as being only the special rare curiosities of biblical history. We imagine such supernatural and divine things, however true they might be, to be prodigies of providence; we cannot imagine them to be according to the ordinary working of God’s mighty power.
I beseech you, my friends, to reject that idea, and put it out of your mind. Whatever God has done in the past in the way of converting sinners is to be looked upon as a precedent, for “His arm is not shortened, that He cannot save, nor His ear heavy, that He cannot hear.”

– C. H. Spurgeon


Distress Enlarges Us

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” – Psalm 4:1
The more one thinks of these words, the more they open their wonderful meaning to us. Darby renders it, “In pressure, Thou hast enlarged me”; and the translator Kay renders it, “In straits Thou madest wide room for me.”
Whatever the pressure be, in that pressure—think of it—enlargement is ours, the very opposite of what the word pressure suggests. We may sometimes feel distressed; here, then, is a word of pure hope and strong consolation. No distress need cramp us or crowd us into ourselves, making us smaller and poorer in anything that matters. Largeness, like the largeness of the sea, is His gift to us. We shall not be flattened in spirit by pressures, but instead enlarged; in the narrow ways of pain or temptation, He will make wide room for us.

– Amy Carmichael

Waiting for His Loving-Kindness

“We wait for Thy loving-kindness, O God.” – Psalm 48:8

Wars and rumors of wars are everywhere now, and we know that dark days are coming on the earth. But through all the thousand clamors that even now we cannot help hearing, these calm words come like the sound of bells through the storm: “We wait for Thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of Thy temple.” So within, all is to be peace. “All hail,” said our risen Saviour to the troubled women, “be of good cheer” and “peace be unto you.”

What is around the next corner? We do not know, but we do know that we shall find that for which we wait– the lovingkindness of our God. Things were dark in the political world when Elijah said, “It is enough”, but we know that what was happening in the spiritual world at that moment was that an angel was on his way to support the prophet. Things were dark when Elisha said, “Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” But in the spiritual world, things were happening, for the Lord made the host of the Syrians hear a noise of of chariots and of horses, even the noise of a great host”, and they were defeated.

Some of Winston Churchill’s words are great for these days for our kingdom work and spiritual welfare: “Let us move of forward steadfastly together into the storm and through the storm, “into and through”, yes, that is it! Be of good courage, be of good cheer.

– Amy Carmichael

“Blessed is he who is not offended in Me”

I have been reading Luke 1. “With God, nothing shall be impossible.” Then I read Acts 12 where James was killed in prison, and then Peter was set free. God, with whom nothing is impossible, did not answer the prayers of those who loved James in the same way He answered the prayers of those who loved Peter. He could have done so, but He did not. “And blessed is he, who is not offended in Me.” These words seem to be written across Acts 12. John the Apostle must have wondered why the angel was not sent to James, or was at least tempted to wonder.

Again and again in Acts, the Lord Jesus seems to say those words under His breath, as it were– “blessed is he who is not offended in Me.” Let us turn all our puzzles and our temptations to wonder why, into opportunities to receive the blessing of the “unoffended.”
Think of this– Now all the grief of those days has been utterly forgotten by those who loved and prayed for James; they have all been together with James in the presence of the Lord now for 1900 years, and the one thing that matters now is how they lived through those days when their faith was tried to the uttermost.
So it will be with any who are longing to see the answer to their prayer for those who are in affliction [and for those who are themselves in affliction] or in any other adversity. In a few years– how few we do not know, but it will be few at most– we shall all be together in joy for eternity. So with us, too, all that matters is how we live through these days while we ourselves are trusted to trust. “Blessed is he who is not offended in Me.”
– Amy Carmichael

Blessed is he who is not offended in me.” Who among us gets upset about how God is running His kingdom? This verse spiritually separates the men from the boys and the sheep from the goats. As Vance Havner paraphrases it, “Blessed is the one who is not dumb enough to get upset about how God is conducting His business and running HIs kingdom.” He knows what He is doing and why, even when we do not, and all we can do is trust God in the dark.
– Mack Tomlinson

Passing Pleasure or Lasting Gain

All that grieves is but for a moment;
All that pleases is but for a moment;
Only the Eternal is important.

Most is  of us know these facts, but I want to remind us of them. The Eternal in anything is the unseen, the spiritual. A trial comes and it will then pass. In a few days, months, or years, we will have forgotten it. But the way we meet that trial– our inner attitude toward it– belongs to the things that are eternal. It will matter ten thousands years from now if we conquered or were conquered by that temptation to impatiencefaithlessness or worry which came when the trial rushed upon us.
It does not seem so now. We feel “If only I could have that— that joy on which my heart is set– then I would be happy.” But these words remind us of something we know is true, and yet often forget– the pleasure will pass; it is temporal. There is nothing abiding in pleasure, but there is something abiding in our attitude toward that pleasure. If we say, “I must have it; I will not be happy if I cannot have it”, then even if we did have it, there would be no lasting, eternal gain, but only a dreadful and eternal loss.
There is a verse about this in the Bible: “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15) Let us ask that this word may never be true of us.

– Amy Carmichael

Avoid Foolish Questions

Titus 3:9

Our days are few and are far better spent in doing good than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance, and our churches suffer much from petty wars over confusing and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than it promotes love.
It is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points where Scripture is silent, upon mysteries which belong to God alone, upon prophecy’s doubtful interpretation, and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonies are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether, and if instead we observe the apostle’s precept to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.
There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly deal with, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace and does my lifestyle adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should who expects his Master to come? What more can I do for Jesus?
Such inquiries as these urgently demand our attention, and if we have been at all given to arguing over trivial matters, let us turn our critical abilities to a service more profitable. Let us be peacemakers and endeavor to lead others, both by our teaching and example, to avoid foolish questions.

– C. H. Spurgeon

The Wisdom of John Bunyan

To go back is nothing but death: to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward.

– Pilgrim’s Progress

He has his back to the world, his face toward heaven, and a Book in his hand.

– Pilgrim’s Progress

The devil is nimble; he can run, is light of foot and hath overtaken many. Therefore, they that would have heaven must run for it.

– Pilgrim’s Progress

This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;

The difficulty will not me offend.

For I perceive the way to life lies here.

Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.

Better, though difficult, the right way to go,

Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.

– Pilgrim’s Progress


Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Before the great revival in Gallneukirchen, Austria broke out, Martin Boos spent days and nights in prayer. Afterwards, when he preached, his words were as a flame and the hearts of people as grass.
– D. M. McIntyre

Prayer was pre-eminently the business of his life.
– Biographer of Edward Payson

All spiritual decays begin in the closet; no heart thrives without much secret converse with God, and nothing will make up for the lack of it.
– John Berridge

If Christ waited to be anointed by the Spirit before He went to preach, no young man ought to preach until he also has been anointed by the Holy Ghost.
– F. B. Meyer

Victory over Death

Death is the great leveler. We all have to face death; none are exempt. What you saw as headlines in your newspapers about people dying will be soon said of you. The day is coming when someone will turn to someone else and tell them that you have died. Death is the great leveler that brings us all to the same position. We are all equal at that point. The great questions is not how do we face this life and this world, but how do we face death and eternity, how do we face God and stand in the presence of His Majesty?

We are reminded that there is only one way. The King of Heaven came down to earth in order that you and I might be delivered from our sins, in order that the terrors of hell and of God with us might have nothing to do, in order that the books of heaven might be cleared toward us and we might become the children of God, delivered from every fear, the fear of death and of judgment, fear of God’s law and the terrifying fear of God, in order that we might live in His presence.

Thank God that as we, therefore, look into the face of death, we can do so without terror and alarm because we know the King of kings is our Lord and Saviour, and He has opened up a new and living way, even through His broken body and shed blood, into heaven for us.

– D. M. Lloyd-Jones